The 25 best zombie movies that will turn you veggie

What really sums up the term “a fate worse than death”? Becoming a zombie, that’s what. The horror one must face after receiving a fatal bite from a socially-inept trotting corpse with the manners of a pissy raccoon is WAY worse than actually dying. Fear of death is somehow outranked by the fact that you’ll be chowing down on your friends and family in a matter of moments. It’s all rather unpleasant.  

Regardless of how repugnant the semantics are, those frothy-mouthed hordes continue to plague our most popular forms of entertainment. We can’t get enough can we? While there’s loads of books, TV shows, and comics that feature zombies, let’s not mess around. It’s the movies that explore the threat of coming back to life as a ravenous ghoul with such expert terror. So come, join us, to celebrate the 25 greatest zombie films ever made. 

Oh, that in the bowl? No, that’s not popcorn. It’s braaaaaaaaains!

25. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The zombie movie: When zombie pioneers George A. Romero and John Russo parted ways, the latter went on to create this. This splatter-tastic comedy completely flies in the face of Romero’s straight-laced approach, instead spinning off into its own world when a couple of warehouse workers accidentally set loose a toxin that turns people into zombies. A bloodbath ensues.

Why it’s great: Ever wondered why whenever someone attempts to do a zombie impression they immediately start jibbering about “braaaaaains”? Return was the first of its kind to incorporate the zombies’ love of grey matter into undead mythology.

24. Dead Snow (2009)

The zombie movie: Tommy Wirkola thought zombies themselves were not fearful enough, so opted to blend them with one of the most villainous parties from history – the Nazis. This hideously graphic tale plots its way through the Norwegian mountains when a bunch of students stumble across a horde of resurrected soldiers.

Why it’s great: Jet black comedy coarses through its veins, yet unlike its contemporaries, that doesn’t mean it holds back on the guts. Or should we say, braaaains.

23. I Walked With A Zombie (1943)

The zombie movie: Laden with awful reviews at the time of release, this later went on to become somewhat of a cult classic. Story-wise, it follows a young plantation worker who recants the time she once ‘walked with a zombie.’ Does she actually meander alongside a member of the undead? Or is the supposed zombie just in poor health? You decide.

Why it’s great: A tense little thriller it’s all the more scary because you don’t even see any zombie flesh eating.

22. Rammbock (2010)

The zombie movie: This 63-minute German entry into the zombie canon is an underrated masterpiece. Forget character studies and nuanced drama. Rammbock captures all of the intensity and scares found in more high-octane fare and packs them into a concise story that follows a a young guy attempting to get his girlfriend back right as the epidemic hits.

Why it’s great: Traces of some of The Walking Dead’s more compelling episodes can be felt throughout, particularly as it dabbles in love and loss through a tumultuous period.

21. The Dead (2010)

The zombie movie: A modern take on the old school flicks of Romero’s day that includes only two main characters – a US Army Engineer and a local soldier – The Dead is a mostly dialogue-free affair. The pair navigate through the inhospitable arid terrain of an unnamed African town in order to survive a spate of zombie attacks, and track down their families.

Why it’s great: Relocating the action from typical suburban locales to the remote African desert, makes succumbing to a bite even more terrifying. Where can you turn for help?

20. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

The zombie movie: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s sequel ups the vigour and intensity tenfold, delving into action territory for the continuation of Danny Boyle’s story. Starting off with a blistering opening sequence, it traces the experiences of Robert Carlyle’s Don and descends quickly into a terrifying nightmare.

Why it’s great: The harrowing realisation of what Don does during the first scene plagues him throughout the story, and instead of giving him the chance of a happy ending the story dishes out revenge. From the wife he left in a house full of zombies. It’s a relentlessly brutal comeuppance.

19. Plague of the Zombies (1966)

The zombie movie: In this sixties Hammer classic, a sleepy Cornish town comes under attack when a strange and unknown illness begins to infect the locals. Before long the dead start to rise, but thankfully the town doctor enlists an old professor chum to help quash the resurrected townsfolk from gnawing on their neighbours…

Why it’s great: A pivotal moment in Hammer’s history, it introduced the idea that zombies weren’t just ghosts with a different agenda, but rotting flesh, as evidenced by its gruesome effects work. Later films in the genre would be inspired by this depiction of the undead. Oh, and it features a killer resurrection scene. (opens in new tab)

18. Pontypool (2008)

The zombie movie: A cunning script drives this 2008 Canadian flick forward and into new terrain, following small town radio DJ Grant Mazzy over the course of a day as locals start to show signs of infection and the town of Pontypool is quarantined. This strange epidemic hails not from a mutated virus, but from speaking the English language. So that’s Grant’s entire audience wiped out then.

Why it’s great: It’s chock-full of social commentary, attacking the exhausted zombie trope with aplomb by laying blame at our collective feet: the bored, uninspired chatter of mankind is responsible for this disease. Only when we ascribe new meaning to words can we escape their clutches. Better grab the OED then…

17. Zombieland (2009)

The zombie movie: Chuckles abound in Ruben Fleischer’s horror comedy that picks up some time after a zombie outbreak with high schooler Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) en route to Ohio in search of his parents. Along the way he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and the foursome take off to find a safe haven…

Why it’s great: Like Scream did for slashers, Zombieland knowingly addresses the everyday logistics of surviving a zombie apocalypse to winning effect.

16. City of the Living Dead (1980)

The zombie movie: Horror maestro Lucio Fulci unleashes a whole world of pain on New York City. In the aftermath of a priest’s suicide the gates to hell are flung open and it’s up to a reporter and a medium to close them. As time ticks down undead hordes cross the threshold making it harder for the intrepid pair to save the world..

Why it’s great: This is Fulci. There’s barrels of not just straight-up gore, but inventive, playful riffs on typical horrorshows. Showers of maggots rain down and one unlucky chap gets his impaled on a lathe.

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